From time to time the Department of Homeland Security sends undercover investigators to airports, armed with fake explosives, firearms, and other contraband, just to test the TSA. The results are not reassuring.
In one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.
A ninety-five percent success rate! Seems a bit high? The Department of Homeland Security apparently agrees—ABC reports Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was “apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources.”
More recently, the DHS inspector general’s office concluded a series of undercover tests targeting checked baggage screening at airports across the country.
That review found “vulnerabilities” throughout the system, attributing them to human error and technological failures, according to a three-paragraph summary of the review released in September.
In addition, the review determined that despite spending $540 million for checked baggage screening equipment and another $11 million for training since a previous review in 2009, the TSA failed to make any noticeable improvements in that time.